This soft outer layer surrounding the peach skin makes a few appearances in Wendelin Van Draanen’s recently published novel, The Peaches Rebellion.
Pismo Beach author’s debut work of historical fiction is full of gooey, sticky peaches, their juice, pits and fuzz, and a summer of learning and lessons for three high school girls from all walks of life. very different in the Central Valley of the 1940s.
“It’s a story about bridging differences and coming together as very different people to achieve a great thing,” Van Draanen said. “What brings them together is a monumental thing, and they end up breaking a lot of rules and conventions and they embark on a great adventure.”
Van Draanen has written over 30 novels for young readers and teens, including the 18-book Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning detective series Sammy Keyes and Reversed, which became a Warner Brothers feature under the direction of Rob Reiner. Just before the onset of the pandemic, she released her first non-fiction work, Hope in the Mail: Reflections on Writing and Life, which is part writing guide and part memory. She said she started writing The Peaches Rebellion about three years ago.
When new times spoke with her May 20, Van Draanen was on day three of a 13-day book-promoting tour of nine schools and 19 stores that will culminate at Barnes & Noble in downtown San Luis Obispo on May 29, where she will sign her new book and other favorites from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Two young women tell the story of the post-Depression and post-World War II era: Peggy Simmons, who grew up on a peach farm, and Ginny Rose, whose parents emigrated from Oklahoma to California during the great Depression. Simmons’ parents own a peach orchard and his brother concentrates on field work while Peggy tends to the farm, including selling and baking peach pies and preserves. Ginny Rose works at a peach cannery, where she stands for hours in a hot warehouse sorting peaches before returning home to take care of household chores and her three little sisters.
“I had a lot to figure out about the time period because I wasn’t there in 1947,” Van Draanen said with a laugh, “and I didn’t know much about the Central Valley and the Dust Bowl migration.”
She began her research with her husband’s family, originally from the Central Valley. Her stepmother worked in the cutting sheds (similar to Ginny Rose) when she was younger. While researching what it was, Van Draanen said she went down the rabbit hole to gather as much information as possible about the Dust Bowl migration and why people came to California.
“Having lived in California all my life and being in communities where there are people working in the fields all the time, so getting to know that side of California better, it kind of spoke to me as something that I should know,” she said.
She searched for records at the Riverbank Historical Museum, where she met women who helped her learn even more. She also interviewed several people, including one of her neighbors who owns a peach farm in the central valley.
“We went to his farm and he let me drive his tractor. I got stuck in the mud. It was a whole thing,” she said with a laugh.
Before meeting her neighbour, she was already thinking about where a peach comes from and what it takes to create one – all the elements that have to come together in harmony – and how it could become a sweet metaphor for the people.
“Water, earth and sunlight come together to create this amazing thing like a peach,” she said. “Coming together can lead us to create something beautiful and miraculous.”
The story follows Peggy, Ginny Rose and a banker’s daughter, Lisette, through a summer of love, big decisions and catalysts for change. Although high school kids have very different lives, what they have in common, Van Draanen said, is that their fathers dictate their lives.
“I’m always a believer in girl power or women power, and while I don’t preach it, I demonstrate it,” she said. “Although they are three different people from three different walks of life, they rebel simultaneously.”
Peggy, caught in the middle of Ginny Rose and Lisette, begins to wonder if the Oklahoma girl and the banker’s daughter will ever get along. Van Draanen guides readers through their lives, their differences, and what happens when they move past their own misconceptions and stereotypes to truly get along.
“It’s kind of a microcosm of what I wish we could do as a country,” Van Draanen said. “To find ways to listen and respect each other and try to put themselves in someone else’s shoes for a little while so we can see why they feel the way they feel. feel about things.” Δ
Editor Camillia Lanham is always listening. Send your thoughts to [email protected]